The Mystical Dimensions of Fasting
Connection of the Fasts of Ramadan with Human Life
The heart of a human being is full of emotions and the mirror of the heart keeps on receiving the reflections by different means of ecstasies. Sometimes, when the fear of Allah overcomes one begins to shiver with fear, and when he looks at the helplessness of the weak and his vulnerability, his heart becomes heavy with grief, and when the enthusiasm of love comes into picture he is so ever willing to sacrifice the treasures of the entire world at the feet of the beloved.
Fear, anger, mercy and love are those different colours which reflect in the mirror of our hearts. Islam is a nature-based religion which has given such a perfect and beautiful bouquet of worships which refreshing fragrance has a share in each and every emotion of the heart. It is human nature to fear, but Islam created the awareness that when the heart is overcome by Allah’s fear and starts to tremble one ought to present himself in the court of the Almighty with utmost respect, and the devotion must bow its head at the feet of His might. This is what we call “Salah” in Shariah Terminlogy. There is another emotion of human nature which is kindness and showing mercy on someone, but here too, Islam provides guidance that the objects of this emotion must be firstly the relatives and loved ones, secondly the neighbours and people of district, and then the rest of the poor and needy. The outcome of expressing this emotion is known as “Zakaat” in Islamic Lexicography. There is a third type of emotion which is anger. Sometimes, a human becomes angry as well and gets carried away by its extremity, but Islam wants this emotion also to be dedicated to Allah Almighty and its object must be made the ones that live in Allah’s kingdom and do not bow their heads before Him. Islam regards the regards this emotion as “Jihaad”.
There is also a fourth factor to ponder upon, which is a very delicate emotion that is sometimes seen in the devotion of insects around a candle. Allah has bestowed the humans also with this concept of love and devotion. It is the honour of love to leave the loved ones in the motherland and go far away and embrace the valleys of Holy Makkah wrapped in a coffin proclaiming Labbaik Allaahumma Labbaik and wander about therein. Striving to gain the proximity of Allah’s quality of “independency”, is also a way of expressing the love and devotion.
This is also a medium of gaining nearness to someone that, his qualities be brought into practice. It is for this reason that our beloved Prophet (peace be upon Him), the torch of guidance has stated:
تَخَلَّقُوْا بِاَخْلَاقِ اللّٰہِ
“Adorn yourselves with Allah’s manners.”
To be needless of eating, drinking and having intercourse is also one of the limitless attributes of Allah Almighty; therefore it is also a medium to gain Allah’s nearness that one accepts the hardships of hunger and thirst by abandoning eating and drinking for His sake. You are hungry and the food is lying before you but you still do not eat. The intellect will regard it as madness but you rather accept this madness so willingly in His love and devotion for adopting this attribute in order to gain His closeness. Islam has named this term of love and devotion “Fasting”.
Fasting in fact unveils the secrets of love between Allah and His servant.
The Significance of Fasting
All the acts of worship are the subject to perform an action that others can also see; e.g. Salah is “to perform the Ruku and Sajdah etc.,” Jihaad is “to fight against the infidels,” Zakaat is performed by “giving someone something.” It’s an obvious fact that all these acts of worship are somehow or the other apparent to the people, and people somehow come to know about it, but fasting, on contrary, is the subject to “not doing anything.” To fast is to do nothing and nobody knows about it. Only He knows for whom it is kept, therefore fasting is a secret between the servant and his Lord alone.
It’s a sincere and unproclaimed present of a true lover to his beloved which is delivered quite silently and secretly. It is for this reason that the Merciful Lord said accepting this unpretentious gift:
اَلصَّوْمُ لِیْ وَ اَنَا اَجْزِیْ بِہٖ
The fast is for me and I shall give its reward.
The impact of fasting on others’ lives
Islam has given us numerous formulas to keep up a healthy, balanced society and it has placed the portfolio of Zakaat and charity (Sadaqah, Lillah) in the hands of the rich to assist the poor and needy, but no one has the heart to take a cent out for it unless they have the emotion of mercy within their hearts. How can one even perceive this emotion if they were to constantly enjoy their lives in luxuries and extravagance of different kinds and brands? One who is always spoilt in the varieties of lavishness’s cannot comprehend the bitterness of poverty and bankruptcy. One who ate full stomach all his life cannot feel the hunger and thirst of a poor. And for as long as one does not experience someone’s hardship, the passion of assisting them cannot manifest in one’s heart.
Psychologically, a human can only feel the pain of someone if he himself undergoes it. Islam has made the fasting compulsory upon each and everyone, so that when the rich undergo the difficulty of fasting, they must feel that if they are having so much of difficulty by not getting the food for one day, then what about the ones who face it throughout the whole year? This is what creates the sensation of mercy within their hearts and they seem to be keen to help the poor.
Fasting prepares us for Jihaad
Jihaad is an important essential of Islam. Every Muslim is naturally a soldier who fights in the battle-fields, desserts and jungles withstanding the force of infidelity for the elevation of the Kalimah of Allah and demolishes the palaces of polytheism. But this sensation cannot be formed by leading a relaxing and easy going lifestyle. One needs to triumph over one’s desires and diminish one’s self (nafs) in order to achieve this enthusiasm. One who is encircled with a world of desire and fond of eating and drinking everyday and at all times can never even imagine the torments of a battle.
Islam has made the fasts of one month compulsory out of 12, so that every Muslim may exercise to overcome and control his thirst, hunger and Nafs, so that the torments of extreme thirst and hunger are no longer alien to him in the battle-field. Every single person in Islam is a soldier and every year Islam prepares its followers for Jihaad.
Fasting Diverts the Humans’ Attention towards the Ultimate Goal
Everything has a purpose. Everything is regarded as something useful for as long as it complies with its purpose and when something is unconcerned of its purpose; it is regarded to be futile and useless. The purpose of us for being sent to the world is:
اِلَّا لِیَعْبُدُوۡنِ ﴿۵۶﴾
(Nothing but) To worship
(Al-Zaariyaat 51, Verse 56)
After coming in this word, we became so engrossed in its yearning that instead of making worship our utmost priority, we have replaced it with eating, drinking and fulfilling the requirements of our carnal lust, and our sole effort goes about nurturing and feeding it.
Islam made the fasts compulsory and reminded the unfocused ones that mere eating, drinking etc. is not the only goal of making their life worthwhile. By forbidding the food and water for quite a satisfactory duration, the fasting has made you ponder that the food is not the only worthwhile target; the main goal is to please your Creator who provides it.
The Medical Benefits of fasting
Intelligent doctors give the patients medications to cause diarrhoea for flushing out their intestines in order to improve their digestive system. Fasting also improves the health in this manner that it actually burns up the filthy matters inside the body and the interior of the body becomes clean. There are numerous occasions in a human’s life when he does not get food on time, or it gets delayed and sometimes they do not get it at all. If one was not in a habit of tolerating the hunger and thirst, he may feel very uncomfortable, anxious and angry at these occasions. By keeping fasts one adopts the qualities of patience, self-control and tolerance and then the said occasions remain no longer alien.
Generous Nature of the Month of Ramadan
Every act of worship in Islam has a generous nature within itself which, if practiced, becomes a means for the forgiveness of the sinners and a medium for high stations for the pious. There are two types of sources of generosity; one, that you have to go it in order to grab the grace, two, that it itself comes to embrace you. Every essential worship of Islam is a fountain of generosity; like Salah, but you have to go to Masjid to perform it; Hajj, but you need to travel to get there; Zakaat, but you need to look for the deserving people and give it to them. Generally, one who is thirsty goes to the water, but sometimes, when the water happens to reveal its generous attribute, it itself goes to the thirsty. The clouds of mercy and generosity of that absolutely Merciful Lord reveal the shower of His ultimate mercy, forgiveness and blessing itself upon the ones that are thirsty for it. The merciful and the blessed month of Ramadan itself comes to us, therefore we call it Ramadan Al-Kareem (The merciful Ramadan) and Ramadan Al-Mubarak (The blessed Ramadan), for it is on a very high level of generosity.
Barasta Nahin Dekh Kar Abre Rahmat
Badon Par Bhi Barsa De Barsaane Waale
Tr: The cloud of mercy showers on all and sundry
So, bless the sinners too, O the bestower of this mercy.